Thanksgiving Dinner – 2012

Thanksgiving_23Nov12_DSC_1391This year, for Thanksgiving, I decided to have a simple, but good, meal.  I did not want leftovers, and I did not want to work for two days cooking.  So,  I came up with an easy menu that included:  Crown Roast of Pork, Rice, Corn, Corn Bread, Roasted Vegetables, Eggless-Milkless-Butterless Cake, Cherry Pie, and Home Made Vanilla Ice Cream.

While I have two good recipes for the roast and pie, I decided to try new recipes for these items, and I have included the crown roast recipe below.  For the other items, I went with my existing recipes, and the rice was more or less ad-hoc.

First, the rice.  I simply took enough short-grain white rice for 8 people and rinsed it until the water ran clear.  I placed the rice in a strainer, and set it aside to dry for about 3 hours stirring occasionally so all rice was exposed to the air.   When dry, I cooked the rice in enough butter to coat all of the rice, one stick in this case, until some of the rice started to take on a bit of color.  I then added organic chicken broth to complete the cooking.  I wanted the rice to have a bit of tooth, so I shorted the broth just a bit, as I had plans for it……See Notes in recipe.Thanksgiving_23Nov12_DSC_1423

The above image is of the finished roast, and the image below is what was left over – a perfect amount!

Recipe:  Crown Roast of PorkThanksgiving_23Nov12_DSC_1428

Brine:

1/2 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup Sugar
3 each Sage Leaf
3 sprigs Thyme
1 each Bay leaf
3 each Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Juniper Berries – Crushed
1 teaspoon  Allspice berries – Crushed
1/2 teaspoon  Peppercorns – Crushed
4  cups Water – Cold
4  Cups Ice water

Herb Paste:

4 each Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon Fresh Sage – Chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme – Chopped
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2  teaspoon Peppercorns – Ground

Meat:

10 pounds Crown Roast of Pork

Procedure:

Brine:

1. 24 hours prior to cooking:  Combine all brine ingredients with 2 cups water.  Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Simmer until all ingredients dissolved.
2. Take off of heat and add ice water.
3. Pour cooled brine over roast and brine for 24 hours.

Herb Paste:

The night before – Mix all paste ingredients and set in covered bowl in refrigerator until needed.

Roast:

2 hours prior to cooking:

Take roast out of brine and rinse roast with cold water to remove excess salt.  Set aside and let come to room temperature.

1 hour prior to cooking:

Rub roast with Herb Paste – Place roast in shallow roasting pan and allow paste to marinate roast.

30 minutes prior to cooking:

Preheat oven to 450.

To Cook Roast:

1. Place roast in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.
2. Lower oven temperature to 325 after 15 minutes and roast until internal temperature is 150 degrees – about 2 hours.
3. Take roast out of oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Note:  Rice Stuffing – 30 minutes prior to completion of roast – Stuff roast with rice.  Place remaining rice in roasting dish along with the roast, and cover with foil.  This will allow the rice to cook further and absorb the juices from the meat.

Note2 – Rice Stuffing: Because of the rinsing, the rice will absorb some water, so that has to be taken into consideration when cooking.

Adapted from: http://leitesculinaria.com/

Overall, this was an excellent dinner.  The roast was very moist and tender, while the rice was extremely flavorful.  Unusually, I did not make gravy for this dinner.  However, because of the quality of the meat, and the flavor of the rice, gravy was not needed and would have been.  The only thing that I may change in the future is taking the roast out at 145 degrees rather than 150. 

Two mistakes that turned out rather well:  I usually bake my cornbread in a round springform pan, and my cake in a square cake pan.  I don’t know why, but when I made my cornbread, I put it in the cake pan, requiring that I make the cake in the springform pan.  This resulted in a thinner than normal cornbread, and a thicker cake.  However, both turned out excellently, and I may do this again in the future.   

I will post images and the recipe for the cherry pie in a future post.

Roasted Vegetables – convection roasted at 450 degrees for around 30 minutes:

Thanksgiving_23Nov12_DSC_1421

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